Coming Valentine’s Day 2020 from Blumhouse and Sony Pictures is Fantasy Island. Based off the classic tv series, Jeff Wadlow brings us a horror take with a script by himself, Jillian Jacobs, and, Christopher Roach. Maggie Q, Michael Pena, Portia Doubleday, Kim Coates, and Michael Rooker star.
Redhanded (2019) releases on December 3rd, written and directed by Frank Peluso. Michael Biehn, Ryan Carnes, Owen Burke, Kenzie Dalton, and Rick Salomon. A group of brothers travel to a river in Oregon to spread his ashes. After one of their kids goes missing it triggers memories of one of them being abducted 30 years ago. Only by solving the mysteries of the past can the brothers find the missing kid.
Out on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory is Dracula (1979), directed by John Badham, with a script by W.D. Richter. Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence, and Kate Nelligan star. In 1913, Dracula travels to England to search for a bride.
Out from Scream Factory is 1979’s Prophecy, directed by John Frankenheimer from a script by David Seltzer. Talia Shire, Robert Foxworth, Armand Assante, and Richard Dysart star. A giant killer bear attacks after being mutated by toxic waste. A classic animal attack horror movie that has to be seen to be believed.
One of my favorite movies endings to a horror movie is the Firefly Clan facing off with the cops to the tune of Lynard Skynyrd’s Freebird. It’s just perfect and exactly how the family should go out. What’s your favorite horror movie ending?
Omen IV: The Awakening was to be directed by Dominique Othenin-Girard, but he left over creative differences and was replaced by Jorge Montesi. Brian Taggert and Harvey Bernhard wrote the story, with the teleplay being written by Brian Taggert. Faye Grant, Michael Woods, Michael Learner, Madison Mason, Ann Hearn, and Asia Vieira star.
Karen and Gene York adopt a baby they name Delia after years of trying to get pregnant. Life is perfect at first, but then bizarre events and deaths begin to plague the family. After becoming unexpectedly pregnant, Karen begins to believe that Delia is evil and tries to find the identity of her parents.
This was a made-for-tv movie and it shows. Limited violence, little to no blood, and a weak story. The only thing going for it is the twist at the end, that unfortunately comes too late to salvage this movie. The pace is uneven. There’s no suspense or tension. It’s a luke-warm movie.
The cast is adequate. Kate is our focal point and Faye does a pretty good job. Ann Hearn is nice as well, but her character is so underdeveloped it’s hard to care. Asia is a poor choice as Delia. Rather than looking scary as the potential Antichrist, she just looks angry. Like a kid who got her favorite toy taken away. The rest of the cast does the best they can with the script. But there’s basically no character development. One character is a nun who seems to have a crisis of faith, but we don’t really get to see her full arc.
The deaths and special effects are practically G-rated. Everything is pretty much off-screen or as unexplicit as it could possibly be. The most interesting death involves a character falling out of window (or being thrown). A potentially interesting death involves a construction site, but nothing is seen. Another death involves snakes and leads to some interesting make-up effects, but it’s still weak at best.
Omen IV: The Awakening (1991) gets 3/10. They try, but fail to make a compelling movie. This is a movie you should definitely avoid.
Review #2: The Omen (2006)
John Moore directed The Omen (2006) from a script by David Seltzer. Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, and Mia Farrow star.
The plot is identical to the original 1976 The Omen. Robert Thorn replaces his deceased child with an orphaned baby to spare his wife Katherine the grief of losing the baby. They name him Damien and after five years of peace, bizarre events begin to plague the family.
This movie is pretty much exactly the same movie they made in 1976, save for some updates to match up with the present day. The difference is: the acting is mostly horrible and the tension and suspense are non-existent. The absence of the Jerry Goldsmith score is also glaring. This movie is as big a dumpster fire as the 1998 remake of Psycho.
With the exception of Mia Farrow, the acting in the film is garbage. Everyone feels like they’re phoning it in. It lacks the emotional resonance of the original. The chemistry between Liev and Julia is particularly awful. They feel more like brother and sister than husband and wife. Liev feels emotionally distant from the material, as if he’s just reading cue cards. He’s very wooden and dispassionate. Seamus is an awful choice as Damien. Not only can he not act, he can’t emote either. Unlike Harvey Stephens, who was chilling as Damien in the original Omen, Seamus just looks like he’s making goofy faces. You don’t feel like he’s a threat. In fact in some scenes he just looks constipated. The one thing they did right that stood out was the constant use of bright red. Red of course is a color most often associated with Satan, so its use throughout the film is very appropriate.
The Omen (2006) is a 3/10. Avoid this movie at all costs. If you want a really great horror movie about the Antichrist, watch the original.
Damien: Omen II was originally directed by Mike Hodges before he was replaced by Don Taylor. Some of the scenes Mike shot are in the film. Harvey Bernhard wrote the story, with the script being written by Mike Hodges and Stanley Mann. William Holden, Lee Grant, Johnathan Scott-Taylor, Robert Foxworth, Nicholas Pryor, Lew Ayres, Sylvia Sidney, Lance Henriksen, Elizabeth Shepherd, Lucas Donat, and Allan Arbus star.
Seven years have passed since the deaths of Robert and Katherine Thorn. Damien now lives with his uncle Richard and aunt Ann and attends a prestigious military academy. On the eve of Damien’s 13th birthday, he finally learns his nature. And he must stand strong against his enemies if he is to triumph.
There was so much potential in the film and unfortunately, while it is a decent follow-up to The Omen (1976), it flounders somewhat. The tension and suspense so expertly built-up in the original is just squandered here. While there are tense scenes, to be sure, it just kind of flits in and out of the picture. The beginning of the picture builds the suspense nicely, but once Damien finds out the truth, it disappears. They should have waited a little longer for Damien to reveal his true nature. The one thing that the first picture had going for it was that nothing they happened could be tied directly to Damien. It was all a question of whether Damien really was the Antichrist or if it was all a coincidence. And they continue that for a little bit. Then Damien finds out the truth and rails against it for a minute and then begins to have a more direct hand in his fate. A better way to go about it would maybe have him struggle against his true identity more before finally embracing it in the end. Give the people the suspense that he might triumph over his fate before yanking the rug out from under them.
The story is unevenly paced and the third act much too short. Although the very shocking twist at the end is breathtaking. It comes out of nowhere, but if you pay attention, you can see little clues leading up to it. It almost makes up for the lack of suspense in the second act. The story does keep your interest and has some great moments, but the story is far short of what we potentially could have had.
The casting was great. William Holden is as classy an actor as Gregory Peck. Lee Grant plays Ann beautifully. John Scott-Taylor is very menacing as Damien. Elizabeth Shepherd is perfect as the excitable Joan Hart. Sylvia Sidney is brilliant as Aunt Marion. Her role should honestly have been expanded. The deaths are inspired and stay true to the series. The elevator death scene is particularly brutal.
Overall, Damien: Omen II (1978) is a well-deserved 8/10. While the story could use a little work, the cast and effects are excellent. I would definitely recommend this.
Review #2: The Final Conflict: Omen III
The Final Conflict: Omen III was directed by Graham Baker from a script by Andrew Birkin. Sam Neill, Rossano Brazzi, Don Gordon, Lisa Harrow, Barnaby Holm, and Mason Adams star.
Damien is 32 years old and is running Thorn Industries. He’s just been appointed to the ambassadorship to England. His rise as the Antichrist is beginning. But he must now destroy the Second Coming of Christ if he is to cement his power. Meanwhile, a group of monks have gathered the Daggers of Megiddo and plan to destroy the Antichrist once and for all.
We deserved a far better ending to the Omen trilogy. While this isn’t a complete turkey, it’s a huge letdown from the previous films. For one, the plot isn’t anything like we should expect from the Antichrist consolidating power. The main plot seems to be him gathering followers and romancing Kate Reynolds. The subplot, which isn’t given nearly enough attention, is killing the baby that is the Second Coming of Christ. We learn a little of Damien’s political ambitions, but not enough to learn how he plans to conquer the world. Even his running of Thorn Industries, his ambassadorship, as well as his leading the UN’s Youth Council are barely footnotes. We see he’s gathered followers, but never how he came upon them. And his speech to them is over the top cheesy. And then we have retcons and inconsistencies from the previous films. The new timeline has the original film taking place in the 1950s, which is clearly inaccurate. And the plot involving the daggers of Meggido completely contradicts The Omen (1976). You need all seven to kill the Antichrist. Using any less simply kills his body, not his soul.
The cast is pretty good. Especially Sam Neill and Lisa Harrow. They have great chemistry, even if it feels rushed to an extent. Sam is very charismatic as Damien, exactly what you would expect from the Antichrist. And he even does well with some moments of cheesy dialogue. Barnaby Holm as Peter is a standout. His descent into becoming Damien’s apostate is chilling. There’s an uncomfortable erotic undertone to their relationship, which adds to the discomfort of the movie. The rest of the cast is adequate and does the best with the script that they can.
The special effects are adequate, but only one of the deaths stand out. The suicide of the Ambassador is well done and very jarring. The third act is another thing that helps to ruin the picture. It’s very truncated and has very little build-up. It’s quite underwhelming. We deserved far better having invested so much into the series and into Damien.
The Final Conflict: Omen III (1981) is a 5/10. Decent casting can’t save this film from a bad script. If you want a better conclusion to the Omen trilogy, you’re going to be greatly disappointed.
The Omen was directed by Richard Donner from a script by David Seltzer. Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Holly Palance, Harvey Stephens, Billy Whitelaw, and David Warner star.
Katherine Thorn gives birth to a baby that dies shortly after. To spare her the grief of having lost a child, her husband, Robert, substitutes an orphaned child. He is named Damien. They live in peaceful bliss for five years. But after receiving the ambassadorship to England and moving into a new house, bizarre events begin to occur. The nanny hangs herself, proclaiming that it’s “all for Damien.” Damien reacts poorly to being near a church. Baboons go crazy at a visit to the zoo. Shortly after the arrival of a new nanny, Robert realizes something is wrong with the child.
This movie is perfect. One of those rare classics, like The Exorcist and The Shining, that stands the test of time and is just as frightening now as it was when it was released. The suspense build steadily the entire film until it explodes into an amazing finale. The ending shot is iconic and chilling. It helps that the movie is grounded in reality. Nothing that happens in the movie couldn’t happen in real life. That makes it much scarier. Adding to the fright is the brilliant score by Jerry Goldsmith. It’s terrifying and really adds to the atmosphere of the movie. Like the theme in Halloween, music can really help set a mood and build up the tension.
The basis of the movie is this loving family that has awful things happen to it. Gregory and Lee have amazing chemistry and their love is very believable. Gregory, who came out of retirement for this role and actually had lost his son to suicide the year before filming, gives the film a gravitas many actors couldn’t. His most iconic role had been Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and that knowledge certainly helped make the picture believable. Lee was perfect as the mother. We see her begin to unravel as more bizarre things begin to happen and we see her animosity against Damien grow. It culminates to her decision to not have anymore children. It’s all the more heartbreaking knowing she is unknowingly raising a child that isn’t actually hers.
The rest of the cast is also brilliant. Billie as Mrs. Baylock is pure evil. From the moment she steps into the movie you can tell she has bad intentions. And she does an amazing job in the role. David Warner as Jennings is the grounding force in realistically explaining the strange goings-on. Harvey Stephens as little Damien exudes an air of innocence with just enough of a touch of evil for you to believe that he might be behind some of the events of the film.
The practical effects in the film are also well done. The hanging of the nanny looks so real and a decapitation later in the film is so shocking that you’ll wonder how they did it.
The Omen (1976) is one of the rare horror films to more than earn 10/10. It feels real and is truly scary. This is definitely a film every horror fan should see at least once in their lives.
Fred Walton wrote and directed When a Stranger Calls Back, with Carol Kane, Jill Schoelen, Charles Durning, and Gene Lythgow starring.
Julia is baby-sitting when a strange man comes to the door, claiming to be having car trouble. Julia gets an odd feeling from him and reluctantly helps him, but refuses to open the door. However, throughout the night, as he returns several times, she realizes she’s not alone. She barely escapes with her life. Five years later, someone begins to break into her college apartment and move things around. At a loss she goes to the police and she’s able to get help from someone who’s been in a similar situation: Jill Johnson.
When a Stranger Calls Back was released in 1972. It was a hit and had several iconic moments and lines including “Have you checked the children?” and “The calls are coming from inside the house.” Eventually a sequel was planned and wound up being set up at Showtime. This is a rare horror sequel that stands equal to the original. The fact that two actors from the original film as well as the writer and director were involved with the sequel gave it a leg up. The opening sequence in Calls Back is just as tense and terrifying as the original. The story as a whole is, perhaps, a little better since it keeps its focus on a smaller cast and stays focused on the horror aspect. The ending is very creepy and suspenseful and wraps up the movie perfectly.
The casting is flawless. Everyone plays their role perfectly. Jill is very believable as a terrified student who doesn’t know what to do to stop the intruder. Carol slips into Jill Johnson like its a second skin. Seeing Julia go through a similar situation to what she endured several years ago, brings back old feelings as well as a determination to help her at any cost. Charles is perfect as John, who’s determined and fatherly. His empathy for what Julia is going through seems very real. Lythgow as the stranger is creepy and disturbing in a very realistic way. Every moment in this film feels as if it could actually happen, which heightens the horror these people are going through.
When a Stranger Calls Back (1993) gets 8/10. It’s a very creepy, tense movie that will have the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. As a bonus the Blu-Ray has the original short The Sitter, which was then turned into When a Stranger Calls (1972), among its bonus features.